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Many products and services are consumed in groups. While consuming, consumers exchange social support, thus fulfilling higher order needs (Oliver 1997). This exchange is as intrinsic to consumption as that between consumers and marketers (Warde and Marten 2000). Customer satisfaction being a consumer’s fulfillment response (Oliver 2006), fulfillment (or not) of the need for social support during shared consumption may affect customer satisfaction too. To understand this effect, a framework for social support from service personnel to consumers (Adelman, Ahuvia, and Goodwin 1993) was adapted to inter-consumer social support. This was necessary because existing frameworks for social aspects of consumption do not cover everyday consumption with ordinary groups, for example, family, friends and colleagues (e.g., Harris and Baron 2004; Small 2009), that do not depend primarily on consumption for their formation and existence; instead, they deal with consumption-based interactions and relations, for example, the influence of other consumers in the servicescape (e.g., Bitner 2000), fellow members of brand communities (e.g., Cova and Dalli 2010), and commercial friends in ‘third places’ (e.g., Rosenbaum et al. 2007). According to the suggested framework, social support has three benefits: 1. Uncertainty reduction: Enhancing control by (a) helping each other with information and material and (b) through social comparison of opinions (Festinger 1954)
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by a brand-centered community.e. worries about a child’s college admission (i. and Koenig 2007). Findings. esteem. Also.e. . for example. ‘identity creation and maintenance’ proved elusive. Social integration: Making each other feel included in a network of affection. help unrelated to consumption). Transcripts of 11 semi-structured episodic interviews (Flick 2009) about an archetypal shared consumption experience. lifestyle. Self-acceptance: Exchanging feedback about each other and validating expectations about others via (a) social comparison of achievement and ability (ibid. Method. choices. Under ‘uncertainty reduction and control’ there were discussions and recommendations on orders and sharing of dishes (i. This research examined the adequacy of the above-mentioned framework in explaining the effect of social support on customer satisfaction. McAlexander.. thus displaying ‘social comparison of opinions. help related to consumption) and sympathetic listening to fellow diners’ anxieties. However.’ ‘Self-acceptance’ was exemplified by social comparison of achievement: An interviewee found similarities between her career and a fellow diner’s.2. interviewees compared their satisfaction to fellow dinners’ mood. Eating out was selected because of its ordinariness: If social support is classifiable in it. a restaurant meal with friends. etc. were thematically coded using the framework. and mutual obligation.. (Cova 1997) 3. All three types of social support were manifest. Possibly identity cannot be communicated unless a distinguishing brand is consumed.) and (b) construction and maintenance of social identity through shared tastes. it should also be analyzable in shared transcendent experiences (Schouten.
Despite the multidimensional nature of social support. Link between social support and customer satisfaction. an interviewee accepted his new group’s choice of restaurant for the sake of make friends.). quick service. Thus. Implications. exchange of social support. diners exchange social support: Consumption is multi-dimensional. to be disrupted by a beggar who suddenly entered the restaurant. only two interviewees mentioned socialization as a factor in overall satisfaction.g. 1 about here ________________ The next step will be to quantitatively test the effect of social support on customer Page 3 sur 6 . all aspects of social support were classifiable using the modified framework. familiar wait staff) for lack of company. the research demonstrates the need to look beyond utilitarian benefits.’ for example.Then. ________________ Fig. Nonetheless. social support itself is multi-dimensional. that is. The research demonstrates that besides satiating hunger and indulging in gastronomical pleasure. They insisted on some compensation (e.. indicating a complementary relation between what the market provides and what consumers give each other. interviewees were willing to compromise on epicurean enjoyment for ‘social integration. This was inferable when a restaurateur was accused of dereliction of duty because he allowed dinner table talk. at social motivations and gains of consuming (Warde and Martens 2000) and extends the additive model of consumer gratification (ibid. There may be a moderating relation between the two as well. superlative cuisine. Finally. its importance became evident when interviewees were asked to envisage eating alone. Further.
Michael Saren..” In Service Quality: New Directions in Theory and Practice. Roland T.satisfaction. Sage. eds. “A Theory of Social Comparison Processes.” Journal of Consumer Research.. Nevertheless. Rust and Richard L.” Journal of Service Research. Oliver. “Beyond Smiling: Social Support and Service Quality. eds. If substantial. the complementary nature of social support and marketers’ offerings can bode ill for businesses. Bernard and Daniele Dalli (2010).” in Handbook of Services Marketing & Management. Aaron Ahuvia and Cathy Goodwin (1993). 287-303 Bitner. Mara B.g. 139-71 Baron. Uwe (2009). Teresa A. O’Guinn (2001). Leon (1954). and Thomas C. especially if businesses cannot manipulate the former. “The Servicescape. Steve and Kim Harris (2004). in the universal satisfaction scale by Oliver 1997). “Working consumers: the next step in marketing theory?” in The SAGE Handbook of Marketing Theory. “Brand Community. knowing limitations is useful. Mary Jo (2000). 117-140 Flick. 412-32 . possibly using social network analysis (Song.” Human Relations. and Lin 2011). Pauline Maclaran. 4th ed. (27). References Adelman. Joonmo. eds. An Introduction to Qualitative Research. (6). Sage Cova. the effect can be included in the standard measurement of customer satisfaction (e. Barbara Stern and Mark Tadajewski. Swartz and Dawn Iacobucci. London: Sage Muniz. Managerially.. “Consumer-to-Consumer Conversations in Service Settings. 7(2). Sage Festinger. Albert M.
357-368 Small. McAlexander and Harold F. “A Cup of Coffee with a Dash of Love . eds. Unanticipated Gains-Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life. (1997).. John W. Ostrom (2007).” in The Handbook of Marketing Research. 43-59 Schouten. 35(3).” Journal of Service Research.Oliver... Rajiv Grover and Marco Vriens. Walker and Amy L.” in The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis. Mario Luis (2009). Oxford University Press Song. London: Sage. “Social Support. 10(1). (2006). M. 116–28. Beth A. Lijun. Eating Out: Social Differentiation. James Ward. eds. Consumption and Pleasure. Cambridge University Press Page 5 sur 6 . Sharpe Oliver. Richard L. Sage Rosenbaum. Carrington. “Customer Satisfaction Research. Warde. “Transcendent Customer Experience and Brand Community. Koenig (2007).” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. Richard L. James H. John Scott and Peter J. 1st ed. Joonmo Son and Nan Lin (2011). Alan and Lydia Martens (2000).E. Mark S.. Satisfaction: A Behavioral Perspective on the Consumer.An Investigation of Commercial Social Support and ThirdPlace Attachment.
based on Warde & Martens (2000) .Figure 1 Figure : Additive model of customer satisfaction.
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